October 25, 2012

Barley Bites

Barley Bites
Our love for our dog Fin knows no bounds. On our European vacation—the trip of a lifetime—we laid in bed each night muttering to one another about how much we missed our dog. Yes, of course we missed our family and of course we were happy to be on vacation. But boy oh boy, did Finley's name get dropped more often even than the phrase, "I could go for gelato right now."And who came to the airport to pick us up? My sister... but she brought Fin along and videoed our mutually high-pitched, furious tail-wagging reactions.

So it should come as no surprise to you that when Ryan and I made a trip to Austin Homebrew Supply for a little foray into brewing (a story for another day), we were wondering how Fin would be a part of our homebrew experience.

Giant bag o' grains after steeping for about 2 hours...
Turns out, you make beer with grains. Not news to you?

Grains smell amazing, and brought me back to hanging out in the barn as a kid while my grandfather grained the cows. Happy memories.

At this point in the beer brewing process, there are no hops or alcohol involved. And it turns out the spent grains you use to flavor the beer in the first stage of brewing can be used in myriad recipes. We found recipes for breads, cookies, and—best of all—dog treats.

An awesome local brewery called Hops and Grain makes dog treats called Brew Bites. How cute is that? Really cute. Oh, and their beer is amazing too, so it's fun for the whole family.

In our house, I kept calling our homemade dog treats "barley bites," and Fin and her buddy Axel seemed to enjoy them quite a lot. I tried one and... while they needed a little bit of cinnamon perhaps, pretty tasty nonetheless.

Fin and Axel are pretty excited to try their first Barley Bite. Gotta love eager taste-testers!
Barley Bites
4 cups spent grains from beer brewing (NO hops—hops can be toxic to some dogs!)
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1-2 cups flour

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: approx. 4 hours

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until they hold together well (it will be very crumbly). If it's too dry, add a little water or some of the liquid that has drained out of the grains after you're done steeping them.

Dump the mixture onto the baking sheet lined with parchment, and press it firmly into a layer that's about 3/4 inch thick.

Score the baking sheet with a knife to make square or rectangular treats* and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and break apart the treats. Lower the temperature to 225 degrees and bake the treats until they have dried out, about 3 hours**. Can be stored in an airtight container for about two weeks. If you make a huge batch, throw some in the freezer!

*If you're feeling ambitious, try cutting out shapes—but be warned, this dough is very thick and the shapes may not work out very well. You'll notice my final product looks pretty crumbly. Cutting into squares saves a little time and will leave you with more full-sized treats.

**The treats need to be completely dried so they will be crunchy and not get moldy.